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Starbucks drives sales for new Frappuccino flavors with fan voting on mobile

Starbucks is experimenting with the power of personal pricing by asking fans to vote on a mobile-optimized site for their favorite flavor out of six new Frappuccino drinks, with the winning beverage to be offered at a special price in July.

Starbucks is promoting the Frappuccino microsite via its eponymous Twitter account for the line of beverages, which now come in a slew of summery flavors, including Cinnamon Roll, Cotton Candy and Lemon Bar. Fans on mobile can easily read bios for each of the drinks, place a straw to indicate their top three favorites, view an interactive map showing top flavors by state and download GIFs and wallpapers to share across social media.

“Coffee drinkers are passionate about not only Starbucks but the particular flavors or blends they drink,” said Andrew Budkofsky, executive vice president at Digital Trends, New York. “Therefore, I think this is a smart way for Starbucks to utilize their loyal customers as brand ambassadors.

“This digital activation amplifies the products they are selling and encourages their customers to share their passion within their online communities,” he said. “What’s interesting is the power of coffee and the Starbucks brand – in that no reward or incentive is needed to make something like this a success.

“It’s a simple, yet effective initiative for them.”

Stirring up consumers’ interest
Starbucks has long been a proponent of listening to its customers for opinions on in-store experiences and future beverage offerings. In this case, the brand wants to know which of its bold new flavors are resonating most with consumers.

“We’ve learned that Americans love voting—not only for their favorite idol but for food as well,” said Jennifer Gavin, senior director of marketing and sales development at PadSquad, New York. “Frito Lays, Ben & Jerry’s, Dairy Queen and others have all run successful voting campaigns.”

Although Starbucks consumers typically do not need an incentive to interact with the brand on social media or mobile, the Frappuccino marketer is claiming it will offer the winning beverage for a special price this July. Offering a lower-priced beverage will also likely result in higher summer sales.

This marks Starbucks’ first foray into personal pricing, where consumers will have the ability to directly affect the cost of drinks. It also serves as an optimal way of gaining feedback on the new flavors while providing consumers with a fun, branded experience.

If July sales see a high peak, other food and beverage brands may follow in Starbucks’ footsteps with similar mobile-first contests to provide competitive pricing for fan-favorite items. The contest will also encourage customers to try all flavors so that they may accurately select their top tasting drink, therefore ramping up sales of the Frappuccinos.

Consumers may vote by clicking on the straws featured next to each drink on, with up to three votes cast.

Fans who scroll down the site will spot a map of the United States, displaying each state’s trending flavor. Currently, more than 925,000 straws have been cast, with the Caramel Cocoa Cluster drink taking top rank in 49 states.

The Cinnamon Roll flavor is the most popular in Tennessee.

The social angle
Fans who are passionate about their favorite flavor of the new Frappuccinos can download one of six GIFs from the microsite to use as a wallpaper for their mobile devices or share across their social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Each drink has been assigned a hashtag to make it easier for customers to share their allegiance, such as #TeamCCC for the Caramel Cocoa Cluster, #TeamCottonCandy and #TeamRedVelvetCake.

The brand’s mobile outreach has been particularly high over the past year, and places Starbucks as one of the foremost leaders in its sector, an accomplishment it will likely maintain.

Leveraging mobile and flavored drinks are also two important ways for Starbucks to remain relevant to the millennial demographic.

Last week, Starbucks announced plans to roll out its mobile order-and-pay feature to thousands of United States stores after recognizing its potential in Portland, the initial test market, to increase sales, shorten store lines and drive customer satisfaction (see story).

“Giving consumers a voice and opportunity to influence a new flavor on the Starbucks menu is a great way to build brand engagement,” Ms. Gavin said. “Starbucks is also doing a great job executing this promotion across all of their digital properties to engage consumers at multiple touch points.

“The Starbucks app provides a convenience experience for loyal customers but also serves as a gateway to the mobile Web— offering a more robust capability and ability to share and engage with other fans of the brand.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York